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How to Make a Spiral Tie Dye Shirt: Create a Beautiful Swirl Design

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Do you want to learn how to tie-dye a stunning spiral pattern? It’s easier than you think! In this step-by-step guide to Spiral Tie Dye, I’ll show you how to create a beautiful spiral or swirl design with just a few basic tie-dye supplies. If you are new to tie dyeing, this is the perfect tutorial to learn to get started with a fun and easy craft!

how to make a spiral or swirl tie dye shirt

Spiral Tie Dye Pattern

Tie-dye has been a popular craft for decades! The spiral design (swirl design) remains one of the most iconic patterns. It’s a fantastic way to create beautiful, vibrant patterns on fabric, and it’s surprisingly simple to do.

Whether you’re a tie dye enthusiast or a complete beginner, this step-by-step guide will show you how to create vibrant, eye-catching patterns that will make your shirts truly stand out.

ice dye shirt in spiral design

If you want to try other tie dye patterns and folding techniques, make sure you read my 10 Tie Dye Folding Patterns post! You can learn how to crumple or scrunch tie dye, how to tie dye stripes, a bullseye, heart, and more awesome tie dye patterns! Don’t limit yourself to just one tie dye technique!

Supplies You’ll Need to Make a Spiral Tie Dye Project:

  1. 100% Cotton T-Shirt or Garment: Choose a 100% cotton shirt or any material made with mostly natural fibers for the best tie dye results. Cotton absorbs dye effectively and holds colors vibrantly.
  2. Fiber Reactive Dye Colors: Pick a variety of dye colors to create stunning spiral patterns. Consider using bold blues, radiant reds, sunny yellows, lush greens, captivating purples, and any other shades that catch your eye.
  3. Plastic Squeeze Bottles: These bottles allow for precise and controlled dye application. Fill each bottle with your chosen dye colors for easy and mess-free creation.
  4. Rubber Bands: Rubber bands are essential for securing the fabric and creating the spiral pattern. They help maintain the tightness of the shirt, ensuring the dye reaches all the desired areas.
  5. Plastic Wrap: Use plastic wrap to wrap the dyed shirt and keep it moist while the dye sets. This step is crucial for achieving vibrant and long-lasting colors. If you are using a ziploc bag to seal the shirt in while the dye sets, you can skip the plastic wrap.
  6. Plastic Gloves: Protect your hands from dye stains by wearing plastic gloves during the tie dye process.
  7. Soda Ash: Soda ash is a dye fixer that helps the fabric retain the dye colors. It is pre-mixed in some tie dye kits, and if not, you will need to make a soda ash solution.
  8. Large Trash Bags or Plastic Sheets: Lay out large trash bags or plastic sheets (I use disposable plastic tablecloths!) on your work surface to catch any accidental spills and keep your workspace clean.
  9. Wire RackUse a wire rack to lift your tie dye project off the table while dyeing.
  10. Plastic Zipper Top (Ziploc) Bags: Use a ziploc bag or other plastic bag to hold the dyed shirt after wrapping it in plastic wrap (if using). This prevents dye from bleeding onto other tie dye project and keeps it damp.
  11. Washable Fabric Marker or Fabric Chalk: Marking the center of the shirt with a marker or fabric chalk helps with aligning the spiral pattern.
  12. Bucket or Sink: Prepare a bucket or sink to rinse the shirt after applying the dye. Cold running water is ideal for rinsing.
  13. Apron or Old Clothes: Protect your clothing from dye splatters by wearing an apron or old clothes you don’t mind getting stained.

Tie Dye Kits for Beginners

Tulip Tie Dye kits are perfect for beginners, kids, parties, and anyone that wants to learn how to tie dye. They are great dyes for the price, but in my experience don’t hold up as well as professional dyes.

What Tie Dye Colors Look Best Together?

While the classic rainbow spiral is a crowd favorite, don’t be afraid to experiment with different hues to create unique and eye-catching designs. Tie dye colors are a fun and easy way to mix up and change with different shirts. Think back to elementary school art class. Remember the color wheel? You want to be sure to use complementary colors.

How to make a rainbow spiral tie dye shirt

Colors like red and blue, yellow and red, or yellow and blue blend together to create the new colors purple, orange, and green, those are good combinations.

Remember that warm colors like red, orange, and yellow look good with other warm colors. Cool colors like blue and purple look great together too!

If you can’t remember the color wheel, think of the rainbow! And put colors together that are next to each other on the rainbow.

For a simple but awesome design, use a single color or monochromatic colors of dye on your spiraled shirt!

light blue sweatshirt with denim blue spiral tie dye

How to Make a Swirl or Spiral Tie Dye Pattern

Now that you’ve gathered your materials, let’s get ready to tie dye!

No matter what patterns you are going to make, the basics of tie dye remain the same. First, you will prep your shirt, then you will then create the design for your tie dye shirt by folding and tying it into sections with rubber bands or string. Then you will apply the dye and let it sit for several hours. Then you will rinse, unfold, and wash your tie die shirt in the washing machine to reveal your beautiful pattern!

halloween colored spiral tie dye shirt in progress

How to Do Spiral Tie Dye Step By Step:

Prep Your Shirt for a Tie Dye Spiral

First, pre wash the shirt to remove chemicals that could interfere with dye absorption and to prevent shrinking of the shirt.

Then, create a soda ash solution by dissolving soda ash in warm water and soak the damp shirt for about 20 minutes. This helps the fabric retain the dye, resulting in more vibrant colors and longer-lasting colors.

soak tie dye shirt in soda ash before dying

If you are using Tulip tie dye, soda ash may be included in the tie dye kit or powder mix. Follow prep instructions on the packaging.

Spiral Tie Dye Technique

Make sure you watch my tie dye pattern and folding techniques video on YouTube!

Now, it’s time to create the spiral pattern! Lay the damp t shirt flat on a flat surface and find its center. (You don’t want it dripping wet.) A quick trick is to fold the t shirt in half vertically and horizontally, marking the center with fabric chalk or a marker.

Next, pinch the center of the shirt with your fingers and start twisting it in a clockwise direction. Keep twisting until the entire shirt is coiled into a tight disk. This is a light blue sweatshirt, but you can see the spiral design so well!

blue sweatshirt rolled and rubber banded in circle or spiral pattern

To make the spiral pattern tighter, you can use a fork to start the spiral pattern. It keeps the center of the design really tight!

To maintain the spiral shape, grab a handful of rubber bands or some long pieces of thin twine (like kite string or a little thicker.)

Divide the swirled shirt into pie-shaped (wedge shape) sections and secure the fabric tightly with rubber bands. The number of sections depends on how intricate you want your spiral to be – the more sections, the more intricate the pattern.

Apply Dye to Your Spiral Tie Dye Pattern

Put on plastic gloves to protect your hands and choose your dye colors. Place your rubber banded shirt on the wire rack.

There are various ways to apply tie dye to the fabric, but using squeeze bottles gives you the most control over the spiral design. Tulip dye kits usually come with the plastic squeeze bottles, but you can also buy them if you are mixing your own dye.

adding blue dye to blue shirt rolled in spiral pattern

Apply the colored dye to each pie shape in whatever pattern you desire.

For a rainbow spiral shape, apply a different color of dye in each wedge, following the order of the rainbow (red dye, orange dye, yellow dye, green dye, blue dye, purple dye).

For a two-color spiral, apply two colors of dye in alternating sections.

For a one-color spiral, apply one color of dye in every other section.

spiral tie dye on colored shirt

To get more white stripes in your design, make sure you have twisted the spiral tightly, use tight rubber bands, and apply a little less dye to areas where you want white to show through. For bold, bright colors, don’t be shy with applying dye to the entire shirt! As the dye seeps into the fabric, colors that touch will bleed and blend together to create new colors.

Get creative with your combinations – perhaps a burst of blues with a touch of purple or a fiery blend of red and yellow.

You can even make spiral tie dye shirts in holiday colors. Halloween and Christmas spiral tie dye colors look amazing!

red and green spiral tie dye shirt

How to Set Tie Dye So It Won’t Fade

After applying the dye, wrap the fabric in plastic wrap or place it in a zip-top bag to keep it damp and allow the dye to process and set into the fibers of the shirt.

For best results, let the dye sit for at least 8 hours, ideally 24 hours. The longer the shirt sets, the more vibrant and rich the colors become.

Keep the fabric in a warm place during this time. I usually make my tie dye shirts in my heated garage since the tie dye process can be messy!

Rinse Out Your Tie Dye Spiral Shirt

Carefully unwrap or take the dyed shirt out of the ziploc bag, and rinse the shirt under cool running water. Gently squeeze out any excess dye. You can use a bucket like I did for this shirt below, but a sink or wash tub works better.

Rinsing out tie dye shirt

Remove the rubber bands or string and continue to rinse until the water runs clear. It’s time to admire your creation!

Wash Your Swirl Tie Dye Shirt in the Washing Machine

After your tie dye is rinsed thoroughly, you will want to wash it in the washing machine in hot water. Use a dye-safe laundry detergent like Synthrapol.

According to Dharma Trading Co (where I get all of my dyes!), Synthrapol will remove out the excess loose dye molecules that have not been chemically bonded to the fabric. That way the next time you wash them, they won’t bleed on your other clothing.

Can You Put Two Tie-Dye Shirts Together in the Washer?

If you have made a lot of tie dye shirts at one time, you can wash them together. However, make sure that they are rinsed VERY well, and I recommend that you only wash like colors together. Wash all of the light colors together, and then the dark colors together. Just from experience, I wash any shirts with black or a lot of red areas by themselves.

Girl in Rainbow Spiral Tie Dye Shirt

Other Ways to Use the Spiral Tie Dye Technique

Be creative with spiral tie dye by trying variations on the tie dye spiral pattern!

navy blue shirt tie dye with bleach spiral pattern

Some ideas are:

  • How to Do Multiple Spiral Tie Dye – Create a double spiral pattern or multiple spirals on the same shirt by picking a few different locations on the shirt to start the spiral pattern. Use rubber bands to secure the fabric tightly in a big bundle. This works well with large tie dye projects like curtains, bedspreads, blankets, or beach towels.
  • Off Center – Although starting your spiral tie dye pattern in the center of the shirt is traditional, be unique and try starting your spiral on the side or corner of the shirt. Similar to the corner bullseye, it will create beautiful patterns!
  • Ice Dye – instead of mixing your tie dye powder into a liquid, place ice on top of the spiral pattern then sprinkle the powder right on top of the ice. As it melts, the fiber reactive dye powder will dissolve, resulting in a unique watercolor-like effect. You can read more about ice dye in my How to Ice Dye post. You can get some cool galaxy looking results.
  • Mixing Tie Dye Techniques – Why stick to just one tie-dye technique when you can combine them to create unique designs? Experiment by adding spiral tie-dye to other popular techniques like the sunburst pattern or heart pattern. For instance, you can create a heart-shaped spiral by carefully folding the fabric, completing the heart and then twisting the extra into a spiral before applying the dye. It’s an easy way to create one-of-a-kind shirts.
Ice Dye Spiral Tie Dye Shirt

Tips and FAQ for Tie Dyeing Spiral T Shirts

How Do You Get the Most Vibrant Tie-Dye?

Make sure you select 100% cotton or natural fiber fabrics, as they readily absorb dye and hold colors well. Pre-soaking the shirt or other material in a soda ash solution helps the fabric retain the dye, resulting in bolder and colors that last. Also, buy quality fiber reactive dye!

How long should you let tie dye sit? Make sure give the colors time to set, even up to 24 hours while kept damp and warm.

How Do You Spiral Tie Dye a Long Sleeve Shirt

You can tie dye a long sleeve t shirt or sweatshirt just like a short sleeved t shirt! As you wrap the shirt into a spiral tie dye pattern, just make sure you keep the sleeves tucked in tightly. Then rubber band or tie into wedge shape sections while keeping the spiral tight.

What is the Easiest Tie Dye Pattern?

If you’re just a tie dye beginner, start with the crumple or scrunch tie dye method, and then try a spiral tie dye! Those are the best tie dye folding techniques to start with.

How Do You Tie Dye a Rainbow Spiral?

Tie off your spiral into 6 wedge shapes using 3 rubber bands. Proceeding around the “pie” slices 1-6:

  1. Apply red or pink dye
  2. Apply orange dye
  3. Apply yellow dye
  4. Apply green dye
  5. Apply blue dye
  6. Apply purple dye

Saturate each section to get a very colorful and bright rainbow tie dye swirl, or apply lightly and leave a lot of space between the colors for more white area on the shirt.

haunted mansion tie dye shirt on model

Don’t forget to add this post to your favorite craft board on Pinterest!

how to make a spiral or swirl tie dye shirt
how to make a spiral or swirl tie dye shirt
how to make a spiral or swirl tie dye shirt
how to make a spiral or swirl tie dye shirt

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about charynn


Hi, y’all! I’m Charynn, the owner and designer of Pineapple Paper Co. I’m a mom of four kids (two girls and two boys) living in Pittsburgh. I love hand lettering, anything southern, cocktails, and of course, pineapples! I am excited to share my SVG files, printables, and craft projects with you! The pineapple is a symbol of hospitality, and I welcome y’all to my little corner of the internet. Read more…

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